AROUND 40% of Spain’s smokers are getting through more fags during lockdown than normal, a study has revealed.
Meanwhile 20% of habitual or social smokers claim they are partaking in the habit twice as much.
Also, 30% of ex-smokers have sparked up again since Spain shut down amid the COVID-19 pandemic in March.
The findings have been revealed by Top Doctors, a Spain-based private health platform.
Surveys were carried out for two months from March 14 when a state of alarm was announced in Spain.
The increase in smoking is due to the pressures of life under lockdown, according to Dr. Coll Klein, head of the Pneumology service at Barcelona’s USP Dexeus University Institute.
He said: “For smokers with a more volatile, more anxious character, the impact of confinement in relation to tobacco use will be higher than usual.
“Confinement has led us to almost completely limited situations, and this may have favoured in some cases a return to tobacco.
“Although to be able to take stock and collect more exact data, we will have to wait a few more months.”
Another striking finding is that two out of three former smokers who have started up again are on the Government’s ERTE programme.
“Being locked up has a negative impact, since it causes a perception of anxiety, stress and anguish,” Dr Salvador de Oña told Diario Sur.
“To combat this sensation, smokers increase their tobacco consumption,” the regional boss of the Spanish Association against Cancer added.
Oña also said that microdroplets carrying the COVID-19 virus can not be spread via tobacco smoke.
This has been one of many health myths during the pandemic, but Oña said there was no ‘causal relationship’ between exhaling smoke and disease spread, citing studies on influenza.
However, the World Health Organisation still advised smokers to kick the habit as the pandemic took hold.
It said that smoking ‘impairs lung function’, which is potentially lethal for coronavirus patients, as COVID-19 is a virus that ‘primarily attacks the lungs’.
Oña also sought to dispel another myth that rolling tobacco is not as unhealthy as smoking straight cigarettes.
He said: “All things being equal, rolling tobacco is more dangerous than manufactured tobacco.”
It comes as the EU has banned the sale of menthol cigarettes, with sellers facing fines of up to €10,000.
The move is a bid to deter young people from picking up the habit, with menthol-flavoured tobacco often touted as a gateway into smoking for youngsters.
In Spain 34% of 15 to 64-year-olds smoke every day.
In Malaga 31.4% of men and 24.6% of women smoke, with the largest proportion of smokers in the 45 to 54 age bracket.